Normalization on the politicians’ messages level, equalization on the citizens’ discussions level: the 2015 Israeli elections campaign on Facebook

Tal Samuel-Azran, Moran Yarchi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations

Abstract

The question whether online social networks allow political challengers equal access to incumbents (equalization) or perpetuate the gaps between candidates (normalization) during an election campaign is central to political science studies. While so far, studies have relied on top-down analyses of citizens’ engagement with politicians’ messages to address the issue, we complemented this method with a bottom-up approach via analysis of independent citizen discussions of the different contenders on Facebook during the 2015 Israeli elections campaign. This approach is particularly relevant to social networks, where citizens are not only consumers but also producers of political information. Our study revealed that, whereas PM Netanyahu's posts attracted the most engagement, indicating normalization, on the citizen discussions realm contenders Herzog and Livni attracted more mentions, as well as Shares, Likes and participants than did PM Netanyahu. In addition, contender Bennett's posts managed to generate more Likes than PM Netanyahu, indicating equalization on the bottom-up level. These optimistic results highlight citizens’ discussion realms as a platform characterized by a more desired democratic discourse than that which can be found on politicians’ pages and emphasize the importance of including this realm in future analyses of equalization versus normalization.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)161-179
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Elections, Public Opinion and Parties
Volume30
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 2 Apr 2020
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science

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